Tag Archives: Hobby Farm

How many?

We’ve been playing ‘how many jelly beans, but this time it’s a little harder. How many babies are in the goat belly? One huge baby that will kill Sophie Wackles to deliver? Two? Three? Judging from her complaining it’s five, minimum. I feel her pain.

Mrs. G. has babies in her too, I think. But she’s  a little more dignified. She doesn’t complain much. She and Sophie Wackles are due about the same time.

Libby is always a little chunky. She’s huge right now. She had triplets last year, and she was a quad. Three babies again? or will she have four this time. Two? It’s hard to say. Libby is due three weeks after Mrs. G. and Sophie, and her belly is pretty good sized

The guessing drives me crazyish, but not as crazy at wondering WHEN they’re going to have their babies.

Before bed, I run out and check them. A picture of class and dignity in my pink bathrobe and muck clogs, sans rifle, don’t want to be too north Idaho . Hector comes with me to run ahead and turn on the motion detector light. That’s his job, at least the part he knows about, the rest of his job is to be the one who gets attacked by any cougars that happen to be hanging around. He is happily unaware of this important duty assigned to him. He’s good boy, but he just cries for his nice safe cage. Not exactly a lion heart, although he’s pretty good at running off the house cats.

Somehow, I kept my baby monitor. Our house was so small when our babies were little, I’m a little puzzled as to why I had to have a baby monitor. It didn’t get much use. It got kept, ostensibly for friends when they came over and wanted to let baby sleep while we played volleyball, or something. Now as I reach middlish age, I suspect that it was a tiny not letting go of never having a baby to monitor again. Now it monitors my barn during kidding season. It’s not on all night, yet, I just check it a couple times. In a couple days it will be on all night until Wackles and Mrs. G kid. Marcus will be delighted. He’s amazing, but even he has his limits.

Those of you who have used baby monitors know how a baby breathing somehow turns into Darth Vader next to your head. Just be glad baby doesn’t chew a cud. Those monitors pick up the craziest sounds. Our neighbors are hopefully all too far away to have my transmitter interfere with any baby monitor receivers they may be using.

How many babies to expect when you’re expecting?  I’m thinking anywhere from 3 to 9.

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A formula for figuring out what buying a whole pig by hanging weight may cost you. Or What happens to my brain at the end of the school week.

The pig has returned in little white packages and they are at their best. We sold one pig, so we only have one to eat. We ate some bacon. We ate some pork chops, and they were good, ‘strornary good. It is much more flavorful than what I’ve been occasionally buying at the warehouse store, (we all know what that’s code for)and much better than the ‘pork’ chop I bought on sale (cheap) at the grocery store last year. (It was bear, unless it was dog. Don’t ask me how I know, I just know.) But the big question is… “Was it cheaper?” Just because you produce food yourself it isn’t free, and in this economic climate, it isn’t cheaper either. It’s a little strange, but because of how we raise animals now and the cheap factory farming practices, you really can’t raise meat for less than you can buy it.Here are the un-entertaining facts for those of you who are considering purchasing or raising a pig.

If this sounds like math… it is, kinda sorta in a nerdy house wife way.

It cost us X to raise out the pig. The cut and wrap (Y) was an additional 68% of that number or X. That little bit of information is pretty much useless if you are planning on purchasing a hog from someone else, because presumably they are hoping to make a profit. The butchering and the cut and wrap was 41% of the total project. Let’s add X and Y together and call it P, for project, or for pig, or for psycho nerdy housewife. Then in that case Y= .4P The actual bring home weight of the beast was 70% of the hanging weight. Therefore, you should be able to develop a ball park number when you choose a hog to purchase. Basically, increase the price per pound of hanging weight by 70% to 75%. Let’s call ball park price B and hanging weight H. In that case (B= .7H+ H) The fatness or leanness of the beast will mess with the equation but it should give you a general idea. Let’s call general idea G and make up some more equations, just for fun, like a ninth grade Algebra book. Sometimes pigs are sold by the whole beast by people like us who have no clue of what they’re doing. You could do all sorts of fun equations and have no idea of what it will actually cost you, if you want.

My actual per pound number ended up being a little more expensive (by a little) than buying cheap cuts on sale or at the warehouse store, but cheaper (by a lot) than buying the same quality and cuts of meat at the grocery store.

Things outside the realm of Mathematical equations.

Having meat in the freezer helps me to plan menus more effectively, and means fewer, “I have no idea what’s for dinner let’s have daddy grab a pizza” nights. (You all have these too. It’s not just me, right??? Tell me I’m not alone.)

Knowing that our meat is not full of antibiotics is something that weighs into the equation for me. The pork industry has a history of overusing antibiotics, which stinks, because pork chops are the ultimate home fast food. Anything that gets to the table in under 15 minutes is a rock star in my kitchen.

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Filed under Nerdy hausfrau, Pigs


It is good to know where your food comes from, although it is not always appetizing, thus it is with pigs. I want my children to be familiar with our food sources and the amount of work it can be to produce it. Hopefully it will make them more aware, more grateful and more confident. Therefore, the chickens, goats, garden and this summer, pigs.

Lessons learned about pigs.

  1. Pigs bite. Really truly, I have been bitten by a pig. She just reached up and bit me on the back of the leg as if she was a dog. The bruise was a black, blue and purple beauty. I went to some function or another with my husband that week and it was SOO tempting to dress up all elegantly in a black skirt and say (like anyone would ask) “Yup, that’s where I got done bit by a hawg.”
  2. Pigs stink. Those books that say they don’t are lying. I wouldn’t enclosure raise pigs again, if we do pigs again it will be on pasture. Otherwise, we will support some real farmer who has the space to pasture raise.
  3. Pigs eat a lot. We really needed to figure out how to store food by the ton and buy it once from a granary. It would be both cheaper and easier. When we get the meat back, I’ll run the numbers. That’ll be fun…not.
  4. Some pigs eat more than others. There was a distinct size difference between the two pigs while they were sharing a feed pan. Marcus added another pan and their final hanging weights were only 4-lbs apart.
  5. We would also start our project earlier in the year. Packing a five gallon bucket of water over ice is its own winter sport.

Pigs were a splendid first meat project. No one got attached to them. After they bit me, they lost their names and became known as the daughters of Beelzebub.

The butcher came Wednesday, shot the pigs and drove away with the carcasses. It took him about 25 minutes from the time he pulled the driveway until the time he left. None of us chose to watch them die. Tales of pig butchering usually involve the pigs squealing, nary a thing did we hear. The most awareness of the animals going to die was the day or two before the butcher was scheduled to come. They were prepared “Your days are numbered and their number is___” I would intone to them each morning I fed them. We weren’t exactly friends after I got hawg bit. Not even the child who once burst into tears at the table due sheer carnivore guilt has shed a single tear, there has only been anticipation for the return of the pig in little white packages. Wherein, I shall have the last bite.


Filed under Hobby farm

Boston and Bacon

April to August has passed in a blur; will someone please slow down the train? I traded my goats babies for cold hard cash and have been drowning my guilt in glass after glass of rich raw goat milk. The doeling went to her mother’s previous owner and the boys found new homes as weed eaters. Here’s hoping for a better boy to girl ratio next year. It might be better to dam raise the boys next year. Goat roast would be a hurdle, goat roast that we bottle fed might be an insurmountable hurdle.

Elora has been fascinated by pigs for a couple years. We admit to encouraging it. If your daughter asks you for a pig will you give her a Barbie? It’s hard to say no when your child’s desires are in accordance to your own. (I think there is a spiritual lesson there…)

The pigs are named Boston and Bacon, the theory is that if we keep reminding ourselves of the pig’s purpose in life eating them won’t be too traumatic. Truly it would be best to not endow them with names- they are quite personable- and names only add more projected personality. This is our first project of deliberately planned meat. More on this later, when my brain is working better.

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More new babies

Aren’t these babies pretty? Missus G. kidded last Monday without the drama and trauma of Libby. Two o’clock in the afternoon she was clearly having contractions, forty-five minutes later the last kid was on the ground. Did I ever tell you she is my favorite goat? She’s been a brat lately, to try to make up for being so compliant, but it will take a lot to offset the convenience of kidding in the afternoon.

They are without question babies of the Alpine buck, which is not a huge surprise. They are super nice, despite being crosses, but however nice these babies are, they won’t give any milk. They would have been really nice does…
A carting home would be ideal for these two boys, they are strikingly cute.
Baby goats are some of the most darling baby animals around. It is amazing how precocial they are. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly they go from a bundle on the ground, to up dancing around. The larger one was trying to play with the other babies before it even ate its first bottle. Kidding season over already, 4 bucks to 1 doe. Not a great percentage, but maybe next year it will turn around.

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Goat tales-part 2

You’ve all been patiently waiting to hear more about my goats. People can be amazingly patient about that – so patient you’d think they’d rather talk about something else. There were other things I had to do. There are always other things to do, such as this goat rodeo. Mrs. G’s black glossy coat is getting brown patches and Libby’s coat is rough. This is a sign of copper deficiency. Like most simple problems this one has a simple solution. Copper deficiency is corrected by convincing the goats to swallow these pills, called boluses, which are full of copper shavings. The goats are not supposed to crunch these, and they can’t take them with water or they’ll go down into the wrong stomach, one of the hazards of having four stomachs. One just walks up to them, pushes the pills into their mouths with a little pill pusher gun and it’s all done. How hard is that? Sophy Wackles crunched hers right up. Mrs. G tried to spit hers out. Libby was very tricksy, I carefully placed the bolus into the back of her mouth, held her chin and stroked her throat until I heard her swallow. I let her go, and then the crunching began and went on and on. Blasted goat, my un-swearing repertoire needs some new additions.

Sophy is the ‘baby’ she’s un-bred and a little undersized, she’s catching up and we’re hoping to get her bred soon, as in maybe this weekend.

Goat breeding isn’t quite as simple as it seems when you don’t own a buck.

Mrs. G looks like a lady but don’t let her fool you. She was supposed to be bred to a nice young Nubian buck named Java. She just didn’t like him, and he didn’t seem too fond of her. I cruelly left her overnight to his mercy. Next morning it was still a no-go as far as any one knew. Fact: If you want goat milk, you have to have goat babies first. I told the owner to throw her in with the other buck, an Alpine with a husky musky beard. She liked him much better. ‘Who’s your daddy?’ babies on the way.

Sophy and Mrs. G are both papered girls. Libby is a grade goat, which means no papers, and a background vouched for by her previous owner only. On a good day she wouldn’t have been coming home with me. It’s usually not difficult for me to tell people, no-, my life with four children affords me a lot of practice. It was a day of weakness and compassion the day I purchased Libby. The poor thing was having her floppy ears chewed off by her herd mate LaManchas. Nubians are the nicest goat breed, other breeds are nice as well, Alpines, Toggs, Sannens, Oberhaslis, all are friendly healthy looking animals. LaManchas are relative newcomers on the scene, it’s hard to trust them, I suspect them of being horse thieves.

Libby is the fat girl who nobody loves; it’s a terrible thing to see in a goat. She puts her head in the manger and makes soft moaning noises, as if she’s never tasted such good hay before. I can hear her asking “Is this hay sun-cured?” It’s embarrassing to watch the way she eats with pure unabashed, unrestrained, untamed greed, as if one of the seven deadly sins is on flagrant display. The other goats persecute her mercilessly, Mrs. G chases her out of the barn and Sophy shuts the door on her, you can almost hear their goaty laughter. Libby is bred to a LaMancha buck. Will her babies have ears? Is Mrs. G. having Nubians or Nupines? Will we get Sophy bred anytime soon? These are the questions that currently rock my little world.

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